Pooja Bedi is the child of veteran actor Kabir Bedi and Protima Bedi. Today is her birthday and on this occasion she had an exclusive chat with ETimes where the actress opened up about many things. Lets’ have a look.
How has the lockdown-like situation been for you?
To be honest, I’ve been extraordinarily busy throughout the pandemic. All I did for the entire duration of the lockdown in 2020 was working extensively on my health and wellness startup, based in Goa. My offices and retail store have been operational throughout the pandemic because they qualified as an essential store. I’m working nonstop round the clock. But I have no complaints on the work front, apart from the fact that the lockdown does make it very difficult for all of us to function. Work- from-home may work at times; but it also doesn’t work sometimes, especially with startups. And there are many variables to HR at this point in time, which is very frustrating, but completely understandable. So, I think, all in all, everything is good; my family seems healthy, happy, and hearty. We are not immune to the realities of what surrounds us and the fact that there’s a tremendous amount of pain, suffering, disease, and loss of life and jobs resulting in anger, anxiety, stress, and conflict. My endeavour is to always spread health, wellness, and healing positivity. I’ve been doing this continuously through my workshops which I’ve conducted over the past many months online.
Before entering the industry, you had been a part of a condom advertisement that created awareness for AIDS. Do you think we are not as open-minded now as we were earlier?
The times have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. Back then even speaking about sex was done in a hush-hush tone. Back then premarital sex was pretty much taboo, living together was still a sin, and being a divorcee was a stigma. There were many different attitudes towards relationships and sex, love and intercaste and inter-religious marriages. The reality 30 years ago was very different than what it is today. Today, we are living in a far more permissive society. Of course, there are people who’ve been pathbreakers, like my grandmother, or my mother, or me, or my daughter–we are very strong, independent, focus-driven women who are committed to having independent lives. We live by the law but yet have our own moral code of what we consider to be right for us, and how our journey should be.
You were recently trolled for posting a picture with your partner…
As someone who’s been in the public eye, and a very controversial figure, someone like me, who’s done a condom campaign, and stands up against governments, fights for women’s, human, and men’s rights, I’m used to bearing flak and getting trolled. I’m used to people turning around saying, ‘What’s that? That’s not normal.’ Maybe in a way, I’m a disrupter because I go with that. Me, my mother, we’re disruptors, we go out and we disrupt a chain of thought–maybe a negative flow–or something that is not in society’s interest. And that’s something I’ve been my whole life. So, the trolling doesn’t bother me. I understand where it comes from. In today’s times, there’s a lot of anger, anxiety, grief, fear, apprehension that people are consumed with. They don’t want to see people happy or know that someone’s life is going well. But that doesn’t mean that people will stop living their lives or stop earning their living, right? I see wellness as holistic. I don’t see it as just going to a doctor, taking a pill, and saying I am well. Your emotional self, your physical self, social self, sexual self–all need to be in complete harmony for you to be considered well. Health is a very big issue today, and we’re all addressing that. It is important it is to think positive, be positive; we can’t stop the rain from falling, but we can certainly determine how we respond to what is happening. So, in that manner, if I go to a beach with my fiancé, and tell people to go and indulge in some exercise and sunshine, it grabs interest. When corona outbreak first happened, I was fanatical about sanitising every box, and keeping everything locked. I was taking photographs of people who were there on the beach, below my building, and calling them out as COVID threats. I was doing all of that because we didn’t know what we were dealing with. Today it has been over one year, people have been locked up indoors, people have been fearful, people have been sitting in a state of inertia, sadness, grief, the lives of loved ones lost their livelihoods, this pressure is not good for your immune system, this cannot be a constant way of life.
Your father Kabir Bedi recently launched a tell-all book. Have you read it?
Well, if you had followed me on Instagram, you’d see me catch my daddy’s book very excitedly and read out a little message saying how excited I was to read it. But then chaos descended in my company; the entire team has been hit–either the families of my staff have been affected or they have resigned because they’re fearful of coming to work. The bottom line is, that I haven’t read it. I messaged my dad just to say, ‘Dad, I’m in chaos professionally.’ But, I’m waiting to read it.
When your father decided to marry again, you were quite upset and with him, and you have also been vocal about it. What exactly about it bothered you?
I have really liked all my father’s girlfriends, and wives, including Parveen (Babi). His first wife Suzan, from whom I have a wonderful brother, Adam, are exceptionally close till today; we have a group chat, and keep encouraging each other and, and sending love to each other on a regular basis. Then there’s Nikki Bedi, who he married next, and who was amazing; I loved her. We spent many happy holidays and moments together. Then there was Parveen and we had a fabulous relationship. One Google search will reveal how I was with her practically at every party. When Parveen first returned to India from London, she was alone and didn’t really know much, she used to be at home and I told Papa not to worry, that I will take her out and I will take care of her. I used to give her my clothes and jewelry, and we had a beautiful relationship. When I was shooting, she came with me to Egypt. When I had dengue, she was in the hospital, looking over me.